You’ve heard of extreme sports thrill-seekers who leap from vertiginous heights wearing bird-like wingsuits, then plunge to earth at literally breakneck speeds? Someone just did that and managed to steer through a tiny hole in an enormous rock face located in Montserrat, Spain, traveling at more than 150 m.p.h.
Had Italian/Norwegian BASE-jumper Alexander Polli’s timing been off even slightly, he surely would have died, smashing into the solid rock surrounding the cave-like gap at horrifying speeds. Needless to say, you don’t do something like this on a whim: In the two-minute video above you’ll see Polli preparing by test-flying directly through (and smashing to pieces) signs reading “2013” to essentially prove (and no doubt hone) his ability to follow carefully plotted trajectories and strike precise targets.
After reviewing the shape of the cave itself (more or less triangular), Polli hops in a helicopter and climbs high above his target before stepping out and plummeting, then extending his arms like a flying squirrel. Then the truly terrifying sequence: from a camera presumably embedded in Polli’s helmet, you see the rock wall in the distance getting closer but the gap never really getting bigger. It’s hard to imagine what must have been going through Polli’s head in that final second or two, approaching his life or death moment.
But then he’s through, amazingly, streaking just above a splash of gravel and scrub, a plume of white issuing from behind him like a jet contrail.
Okay, so the cut between Polli leaping from a cliff and a screeching hawk at the beginning is a little corny, but then anyone willing to attempt something as completely nuts as this deserves all the narrative leeway in the world.